Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Collateral damage" (i.e., killing civilians) in Afghanistan

David Dayen states clearly and succinctly the problem of civilian deaths in NATO attacks in Afghanistan. Afghan President Karzai is once again complaining about civilian deaths in a NATO air strike. And NATO is once again claiming they are concerned about it. But as David points out in Civilian Casualties Rankle Afghan Leaders FDL News 05/30/2011:

They may take Karzai's concerns very seriously, but I find it hard to believe that about the underlying issue. Because civilian casualties are a by-product of war, and while NATO and the US can talk about care and precision, short of stopping they bombing they won’t stop the killing. These are not "arbitrary and improper operations," as Karzai called them. They're the normal operations that NATO undertakes all the time. Sometimes they miss. Or sometimes they hit a target that turns out to be the wrong one. Last week, a NATO airstrike killed 20 men considered to be Taliban in local dress. It turns out they were all plainclothes police officers. The officers were investigating police checkpoints that Taliban overran and then abandoned before the airstrikes came. The checkpoints still flew the Taliban flag, so NATO bombed them.
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